If I had gone to a different college, my experience as a student-athlete would have been vastly different. Stanford approaches student-athletes differently than most universities, and its approach to athletics is partly what drew me to the university. Here are some things that I love about being a student-athlete at Stanford.
You may be tired of hearing this claim, but it’s true: the mix of athletics and academics at Stanford is unparalleled. When you ask a student-athlete why they chose Stanford over other schools, you will likely to get some version of the answer: “It’s the perfect mix of academics and athletics.” And it’s true, you don’t have to sacrifice either when you choose Stanford. Student-athletes receive a world-class education while also competing at a high athletic level. Stanford gives athletes the opportunity to become top surgeons or highly sought-after software engineers while also allowing them the potential to turn pro after they leave. Personally, this is super important to me. I want to reach the top of my sport (which is water polo), but I also love learning in the classroom. At the end of the day, when my body no longer is able to swim up and down the pool or even throw a ball, I will need to be able to forge a career path for myself. I want to be more than just a water polo player, and a Stanford degree will give me that opportunity.
Another perk of attending Stanford as a student-athlete is the quality of the infrastructure for athletics. Every day that I lift in the weight room, swim in the pool or even watch another sporting event, I am in awe of the athletic facilities. They are unparalleled by anything I’ve seen at comparable institutions. I’ve played in hundreds of pools, and Avery Stadium is by far the best. The built-in stands are capable of holding thousands of fans, and every time I play a game in Avery, no matter how many people show up to watch, I smile at how lucky I am to call Avery my home pool.
Finally, Stanford does a great job of promoting relationships between athletes and non-athletes. If I had attended a different university, I would have likely lived with my teammates all four years. One of the best things Stanford does, in my opinion, is pair all freshman with random roommates. The residential programming staff does its best to split up athletes and create communities with unique individuals. While I love my teammates, some of my best friends are not athletes, and a lot of them are from my freshman dorm. I value having a community away from the pool, one that doesn’t care if I added 10 seconds on my test set or had a bad practice. My non-athlete friends keep me connected to different communities at Stanford and allow me to have a world separate from the grind of college athletics.
Contact Aria Fischer at afisch ‘at’ stanford.edu.